Kaiser Permanente launches megawatt solar energy project

A long-time environmental steward, Kaiser Permanente plans to deploy powerful solar energy systems at 15 of its California facilities by the summer of 2011. The panels, to be installed by San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy, promise to produce up to 15 megawatts of energy, roughly enough energy to power 11,250 homes in a given instant.

"What's good for the environment is good for our health," said Raymond J. Baxter, Ph.D., senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. "By expanding the use of solar power, Kaiser Permanente is demonstrating its commitment to greening its energy portfolio and reducing its carbon footprint. Harnessing renewable energy to power the care we provide reflects our dedication to improving the health of our members and the communities we serve."

Kaiser will spend $95.6 million, over 20 years, for power from the solar panels. Upon completion, the solar systems will produce about 10 percent of the power the used by the sites, which include the Vallejo and Santa Clara medical centers in Northern California, and Fontana and San Diego medical centers in Southern California. Kaiser Permanente also will retain all the Renewable Energy Credits awarded for these solar projects. The project will be cost-neutral and likely will save money, officials told The Times-Herald.

Kaiser wants to use onsite, sustainable energy for 25 percent of its electricity needs by the year 2020, Kathy Gerwig, the company's environmental stewardship officer, told the San Francisco Chronicle. If it works as planned, the deal with Recurrent Energy could be replicated at other Kaiser facilities.

For more information:
- read The Medical News article
- check out this Times-Herald article
- read this San Francisco  Chronicle article
- read this New York Times blog entry